The Ninth Resurrection Appearance

“Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, 
so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 
When his family heard about this,
they went to take charge of him, for they said,
‘He is out of his mind.’”
Mark 3:20-21 (NIV)

“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee.
He did not want to go about in Judea because
the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him.
But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 
Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘Leave Galilee and go to Judea,
so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 
No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret.
Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.’
For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”
John 7:1-5 (NIV)

“Then he appeared to James,”
1 Corinthians 15:7 (NIV)

“Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem 
to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 
I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.”
Galatians 1:18-19 (NIV)

There is not much said about our Lord’s family life in the Bible. The verses I include tell us that at one time, likely during the second and great year of popularity in Galilee, Jesus’ family thought He was insane and sought to take Him away from His work (Mark 3:20-21). Then, in the third year, the year of opposition, leading up to the crucifixion, we are told His brothers seemed to chide Him and did not accept Him as the Messiah (John 7:1-5).

During the resurrection period prior to the ascension Jesus had a one-on-one with “James” whom we believe to be our Lord’s brother. This man became a leader in the church in Jerusalem as we see in the book of Acts.

It speaks to the love of our Lord for His family that His own brother had a private visit from Him. Some of my readers may identify with Jesus as you are the only Christian in your family or at work. You too may be criticized as insane or a fanatic for believing the Gospel. Don’t be disheartened. As you seek to live a consistent life before your family and coworkers, remember this appearance of our Lord and seek to do good to those who may mock your faith.

I recall a story about a Christian who was a salesman in a progressive company and was joked about concerning his beliefs by other salesmen during sales meetings. He never responded or complained. One day a Jewish salesman came to him privately to ask help for a personal problem. The troubled man spoke of the gentle way the Christian dealt with harassment and how he was impressed by it. He then confided his problem and was much helped.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

– Joseph Scriven

The Eighth Resurrection Appearance

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 
Then Jesus came to them and said,
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

“After that, he appeared to more than five hundred
of the brothers and sisters at the same time,
most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”
1 Corinthians 15:6 (NIV)

As we approach the final appearances, the order up to the last is not really clear. I follow the order in A.T. Robertson’s Harmony of the Gospels.

Our Lord appeared to individuals, a large crowd of over 500, two disciples, the apostles, women, men, on a mountain, by the sea, in a locked room, on a road between villages, and at the empty tomb. He spoke to them, ate with them, prepared breakfast for them, taught them, and performed a miracle. So, the appearances were varied in numerous ways.

Today’s appearance is often called “The Great Commission”. Ever since our Lord delivered this commission it has been faithfully used as a platform for messages commissioning missionaries leaving for service abroad.

As believers, we all need to embrace it for ourselves. Every child of God is an ambassador residing in a foreign country with a message to the citizens from the foreign power we represent. We are pilgrims on a journey to the celestial city. We may not all be preachers but all of us are witnesses to the grace of God in our lives. Preachers prepare messages to deliver. Witnesses do not prepare messages, they simply tell others what has happened to them.

Our Lord said, that because all authority or power has been given to Him, His followers are to go, disciple and teach people to observe all Jesus taught. Our Lord wanted us to know He is sovereign and so His followers are assured of being supplied with all they need to do what Jesus commissioned them to do.

Christian, you will be given everything you need to fulfil God’s will for your life. It may be wisdom to make the right decision going forward. You may be certain of needed grace to endure adverse situations. Whatever the need is God’s grace is more than enough to see you through all of it.

John Newton, author of the beloved hymn Amazing Grace, penned the following:

Begone, unbelief,
My Savior is near,
And for my relief
Will surely appear;
By prayer let me wrestle,
And He will perform;
With Christ in the vessel,
I smile at the storm.

Though dark be my way,
Since He is my Guide,
’Tis mine to obey,
’Tis His to provide;
Though cisterns be broken,
And creatures all fail,
The word He hath spoken
Shall surely prevail.

His love, in time past,
Forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last
In trouble to sink:
Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review
Confirms His good pleasure
To help me quite through.

Why should I complain
Of want or distress,
Temptation or pain?
He told me no less;
The heirs of salvation,
I know from His Word,
Through much tribulation
Must follow their Lord.

How bitter that cup
No heart can conceive,
Which He drank quite up,
That sinners might live!
His way was much rougher
And darker than mine;
Did Christ, my Lord, suffer,
And shall I repine?

Since all that I meet
Shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet,
The medicine, food;
Though painful at present,
’Twill cease before long,
And then, oh, how pleasant
The conqueror’s song!

The Seventh Resurrection Appearance

“He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
and asked him to put out a little from shore.
Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 
‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’  
Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t
caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’  
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish
that their nets began to break”
Luke 5:3-6 (NIV)

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples
did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them,
‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said,
‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’
When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because
of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved
said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say,
‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him
(for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.
The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish,
for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.
When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals
there with fish on it, and some bread.”
John 21:5-9 (NIV)

The place of this appearance in the sequence of resurrection events cannot be determined for certain. All we know is that it happened somewhere between the resurrection and the ascension.

Jesus does several things on the seashore to reinforce His resurrection to these disciples. He speaks to the fishermen at a time of day (early morning) when people from the surrounding area would typically gather at the shore to greet the fishermen and buy a day’s supply of fish for their family. This particular morning the disciples had fished all night without getting a catch.

Jesus tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and they would get a catch of fish. The catch was a miracle! The net was so full they could not haul it into the boat! The beloved disciple had déjà vu. In other words, he had experienced a similar situation just like this miracle before. Luke 5 records the previous scene. When the disciple realized the man on shore was their Teacher, he said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”. Peter immediately grabbed his outer garment, jumped ship and rushed ashore to be close to his beloved Master.

We can learn from Peter’s impulsive act of plunging into the water to get to Jesus faster than the others. The boat, the fish and his companions can care for themselves, Peter urgently wanted an extra moment with his Master. May God grant us impulsive hearts like Peter’s so that we too will have times when we drop everything to draw near to our beloved Master.

Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV) reads;

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?”

The imagery may be quaint in the following hymn, but the sentiment is rich indeed. May it be our prayer today.

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast;
Shelter me safe in that “haven of rest”;
Shelter me safe in that “haven of rest.”

Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an off’ring to Jesus, my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart,
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart;
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.

Nearer, still nearer, Lord, to be Thine!
Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride,
Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified;
Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified.

Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last,
Till safe in glory my anchor is cast;
Through endless ages ever to be
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee

– L. N. Morris

The Sixth Resurrection Appearance

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things 
at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, 
and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Matthew 16:21 (NIV)

“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve,
was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 
So, the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’
But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands
and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, 
I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again,
and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked,
Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ 
Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it into my side.
Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 
Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed;
blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
John 20:24-29 (NIV)

This appearance to “doubting Thomas” is likely the best known appearance to people inside and outside the church. We thank God for this stubborn man and his vigorous demand to see his resurrected Lord for himself. No witness can persuade him that Jesus was seen alive. Thomas is seen three times in John’s Gospel in a negative way (John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24-25). He seems to see the hole and not the donut in every situation. Such people can try our patience, but Jesus chose him, and we thank God such a doubter was among the twelve. He removes any reason whatsoever for anyone to question the fact that Jesus was alive as He said.

About one year before the crucifixion Jesus began to talk about a journey He would take to Jerusalem and suffer much, die, and rise again the third day. This teaching continued right up to the night He was betrayed. Sadly, the disciples had only the idea of Jesus setting up His kingdom imminently and the glory they would have in that day.

Often, we can be like the disciples and see only great things coming from our Father’s hand. When adversity strikes, we are bewildered because we think believers must lead charmed lives full of blessings and free from anything negative. Such an erroneous view of the Christian life is called “The health and wealth Gospel” or “The prosperity Gospel”. Acts 14:22 (NIV) sums up the true message of the early church regarding our faith journey to heaven;

“Confirming the souls of the disciples,
and exhorting them to continue in the faith,
and that we must through much tribulation
enter into the kingdom of God”

Isaac Watts put it well when he wrote the following:

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas? 

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God? 

Since I must fight if I would reign,
Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Your Word.

The Fifth Resurrection Appearance

“On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the disciples were together,
with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, 
Jesus came and stood among them and said, 
‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this,
he showed them his hands and side. 
The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”
John 20:19-20 (NIV)

Jesus had been very busy that resurrection day with a total of five appearances, including today’s, all under different circumstances. He was standing, walking, eating, at the empty tomb, travelling between towns, in a locked room, and appearances to disciples who were initially sceptical of the resurrection. The Gospel writers show great integrity as they record how difficult it was for them to receive the good news that their beloved Master had indeed risen. Because of the disciples’ initial refusal to believe the central doctrine of their faith we have confidence their reports about seeing Jesus alive are true. They found fault with themselves for being slow to believe but expected their testimony to be accepted. Why did they expect their witness to be accepted? Because, of course, it was true!

The disciples were behind locked doors because they feared the reprisal of the Jewish leaders. Likely they were wondering where they would go next. For over three years they had followed their Teacher, but He was forever gone as far as they were concerned. They had expected Him to set up His kingdom and rule the world. Instead, He died a shameful death utterly overpowered by His enemies. With their hopes shattered they felt their future was hopeless.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, and without announcement, Jesus appeared in the room with them. He gave them a beautiful Jewish greeting and immediately showed the scars of His crucifixion to prove He was not an imposter. The marks of crucifixion and His Galilean accent were all they needed to embrace the glorious truth He was indeed alive. The women were right in their witness to seeing the Teacher alive. They were “overjoyed”. In Mark 16:14 we read that Jesus rebuked them for not believing the reports of the disciples who had already seen Him alive. Then He asked for some food to eat Luke 24:41-43 and ate it in front of them. In so many ways our Lord gave wonderful evidence to the fact He was alive.

Reader do you indeed believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead? Do you confess Him as your only Lord and Saviour? Do you live for Him and seek to exalt Him in every word you speak, with every thought, and in everything you do? When you stray from the path of righteousness do you humbly return asking forgiveness? These are the distinctive traits of Christian character and are evidence of God working in you. Rejoice today that you serve a risen Saviour Who has promised never to leave you or forsake you. The power it took to raise our Lord is the power that works in you (Ephesians 1:19-20).

The day of resurrection! 
Earth, tell it out abroad; 
the passover of gladness, 
the passover of God. 
From death to life eternal, 
from earth unto the sky, 
our Christ hath brought us over, 
with hymns of victory. 

Our hearts be pure from evil, 
that we may see aright 
the Lord in rays eternal 
of resurrection light; 
and listening to his accents, 
may hear, so calm and plain, 
his own “All hail!” and, hearing, 
may raise the victor strain. 

Now let the heavens be joyful! 
Let earth the song begin! 
Let the round world keep triumph, 
and all that is therein! 
Let all things seen and unseen 
their notes in gladness blend, 
for Christ the Lord hath risen, 
our joy that hath no end.